Quiet at Mandela’s Johannesburg house

Nelson Mandela's houe in Houghton, Johannesburg
Nelson Mandela’s houe in Houghton, Johannesburg

All was quiet outside Nelson Mandela’s home in Johannesburg in the early hours of Monday morning, after the announcement that the former president’s condition was critical.

Shortly after 2am, a silver Jeep arrived at the house. The driver pulled up outside the black gates, flashed the vehicle’s headlights and, when there was no response, hooted twice. The gates opened.

Two broadcasting teams arrived at the house on Sunday night, but left a short while later.

The street was otherwise quiet, with only the occasional armed response patrol.

Stones bearing the messages “God Bless Madiba”, “Thanx father” and “I love you Madiba”, roses and cards shone under a streetlight in front of the house.

They have been left by well-wishers in the days since Mandela was hospitalised on June 8 for treatment of a recurring lung infection.

On Sunday night, the anti-apartheid icon and Nobel peace prize laureate’s house was dark with only an entrance light visible through the large windows facing the road.

“The condition of former president Nelson Mandela, who is still in hospital in Pretoria, has become critical,” the presidency said in a statement issued earlier on Sunday.

It made the announcement after a visit by President Jacob Zuma and African National Congress deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa.

“They were briefed by the medical team, who informed them that the former president’s condition had become critical over the past 24-hours,” said presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj.

Zuma and Ramaphosa also met Mandela’s wife Graca Machel to discuss Mandela’s condition.

“The doctors are doing everything possible to get his condition to improve, and are ensuring that Madiba is well looked after and is comfortable,” Zuma said in the statement.

After 10pm, more than 10 journalists and technical staff from various broadcasters milled outside the Medi-Clinic Heart hospital in Pretoria.

Some of the crews were off-loading and setting up broadcasting equipment, including lights and generators.

A Tshwane metro police car, with flashing blue lights was parked nearby.

It was quiet outside the Nelson Mandela Foundation a few streets from the former statesman’s house. Three cars were parked behind the closed gate. – Sapa